Scarborough’s Brunswick shopping centre could be transformed into a multiplex cinema and food court if plans are approved. 

A multi-million-pound plan proposing to transform the 1990s Brunswick centre in Scarborough into a major cinema and leisure destination has been submitted to Scarborough Council.

The “mostly vacant shopping centre” has been impacted by a “dramatic decline in footfall” and the loss of key tenants such as Debenhams.

The applicant, which acquired the centre in 2021, is Scarborough Group International (SGI), an international property developer and regeneration specialist. 

According to the developer, the scheme is being funded by a mix of private and public sector investment that draws on Scarborough Council’s Future High Street Fund and Levelling Up Fund allocations. 

If full planning permission is granted the developer is set to undertake internal and external alterations to the building, with plans for new entrances and beacons on every corner of the building to attract visitors.

Mark Jackson, development director at Scarborough Group International, said: “It is no easy task though to fit a cinema and other leisure uses within an existing shopping centre structure, especially in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

“Over the last 12 months, our team has been busy developing innovative plans that will serve the local population and Scarborough’s many seasonal visitors, to maximise the positive impact upon the town’s economy.”

‘Leisure-led destination’

SGI has said it is planning “a major repositioning” of the 1990’s-built, Debenham’s-anchored shopping centre and hopes to turn round its fortunes, as well as that of the town.

The group wants to create a new “leisure-led destination” and is working with the council to help meet its objective of Scarborough becoming the best-performing coastal town centre in England by 2025.

The proposal also anticipates attracting a range of food and beverage uses as well as local and national commercial, leisure, and retail opportunities.

A key consideration of the design is to create “a focal and welcoming entrance to the cinema” while taking advantage of the corners of the building as “beacons” that would serve as “a wayfinding feature and encourage footfall from the surrounding area”.

According to a planning statement, the design will be “sympathetic to the existing context and neighbouring heritage buildings” and will maximise the “retained active frontage and create a distinctive building with a rich material palette”. 

The cinema is proposed to be in operation at the latest from 9am until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights, and until 11pm from Sunday to Thursday. 

Operator yet to be announced

If planning permission is granted, SGI expects work to start by mid-2023, with the finished scheme open by Christmas 2024.

An operator for the cinema has not yet been announced, at which point the size of the cinema and number of screens are set to be decided.

The plans state that the cinema will take up to 2,700 sqm out of the centre’s almost 14,000 sqm of space. 

While a design and access report states that the current condition of the site is “fair”, it also notes “the outdated interiors and leaky atrium roofs” with large parts of the building due “an update to modern standards”.

Cllr Steve Siddons, leader of the council, said: “This facility will breathe new life into the centre of the town, particularly the early evening and night-time economy offering residents and their families the opportunity for new and exciting entertainment facilities. 

“We have worked closely with Scarborough Group to develop these bold proposals which I hope we will see in the very near future.”